“What add-ons/modules should I install in my zen cart templates?” With hundreds of free modules available for zen cart, this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get. When considering whether or not to install additional modules to your zen cart templates, it is important to ask, “Do I really need this module?”. Since the more modules you install, the more complicated and potentially expensive an upgrade will be, you should consider this question carefully before adding any extra modules to your site.
Having said that, there are some modules that I consider to be absolute must-haves. I install them in all of my custom zen cart projects. They enhance the functionality of your zen cart (i.e. make your job as a store owner easier) and provide functionality that is not native to the program. All of these modules are available for free download in the Free Software Add Ons section on the zen cart site and links to them are included in this post. Some are easy to install, others not so easy.
1. Backup Zen Cart
This module is super convenient for backing up your zen cart database directly through the admin (no need to use cpanel or phpmyadmin) in just a few clicks. It is fast and easy to use and as we all know, it is so important to have a current back up of your database. Very convenient when you are just adding products or making other database or file changes.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Back up Zen Cart Plugin
2. Column Layout Grid for Product Listing
This module give you the clean looking, easy to use grid format for your product listing pages as opposed to the row layout that is native to zen cart. You can still use all of the features of the product listing page (add to cart box, description, etc.) but the format is just better for shoppers, whether you have a lot of products, or just a few. This module comes installed natively in all of our free and paid zen cart templates.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Column Layout Grid for Product Listing module for Zen Cart
3. Fast and Easy Checkout
Fast and Easy Checkout combines the payment and shipping checkout pages into one page for a shortened checkout process. It can also simulate the checkout confirmation page making a seemingly one page checkout. The importance of this module is that it reduces the steps that can deter customers from completing purchases on your website. Therefore, it can potentially increase your conversion rates.
Fast and Easy Checkout uses JQuery to accept the users shipping address without having to redirect to the shipping address page on both the regular login and no account option.
This module is pre-integrated with Easy Sign-Up and Login for the fastest Zen Cart checkout system.
- One (JQuery) or Two Page Checkout
- Easy Sign-Up and Login in Split Login Mode
- Checkout Without an Account
- Force Checkout Without an Account
- Confirm Email
- Make Account Telephone Optional
- Order Total on Registration/Login
- Confidence Box on Registration/Login
- Copy Billing to Shipping Address
- Customizable Dropdown Selection on Checkout (use for whatever you want)
- Customizable Checkbox Field on Checkout (use for whatever you want)
Also pre-integrated with:
- Google Checkout (requires separate module)
- Gift Wrapping (requires separate module)
- Store Credit and Rewards Points (requires separate module)
- Captcha Using TTF (requires separate module)
- PO Box Ban (requires separate module)
- Encrypted Master Password
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Fast and Easy Checkout module for Zen Cart
4. Ask a Question
This module puts a button or link on the product info page to allow your customers to ask a question directly from the product info page. The product information and product link are included in the email. It saves you time corresponding with customers asking which product they are asking about.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Ask a Question module for Zen Cart
5. About Us Page
This module does just what it says. It adds an About Page, crucial for buyer confidence. Has the added advantage of being easily edited via the admin define pages editor.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. About Us Page module for Zen Cart
6. Image Handler
There are many advantages to using Image Handler over the default zen cart image functionality including: Improved site performance (faster loading, faster display), Professional looking images (no stair-effects, smooth edges), Uploading one image automatically creates small, medium and large images on page request, Choose preferred image-types for each image size, Source image file type doesn’t matter, Drops in and out seamlessly. No need to redo your images. All images are kept, Easy install. One-click-database-upgrade, Works with mass-update/-upload tools like Ez Populate, Watermark images to prevent Mr. Competitor from stealing them, Fancy image hover functionality lets a larger image pop up whenever you move your mouse above a small image (switchable), Watermarking works with different source-images for small, medium and large, too, Fancy Hovers work with different source-images, Choose an image background color matching to match you site’s color or select a transparent background for your images, Manage your multiple images for products easily from one page just like you do with attributes in the Products Attribute Manager.
This contribution uses GD libraries or Image Magick (if installed on your server) to generate and resize small, medium and large images on the fly on page request. You can simply upload just one image or you can have different sources for medium and large images. This upgrade further enables you to watermark your images (overlay a second specific translucent image) and have medium images pop up when you move your mouse over a small image (fancy hover).
This contribution includes a powerful admin interface to browse your products just like you would with the Attribute Manager and upload / delete / add additional images without having to do this manually via FTP. Image Handler 2 works fine with mass update utilities like Ez Populate.
- Improve site performance (faster loading, faster display)
- Professional looking images (no stair-effects, smooth edges)
- Choose preferred image-types for each image size
- Uploading one image automatically creates small, medium and large images on page request
- Drops in and out seamlessly. No need to redo your images. All images are kept.
- Easy install. One-click-database-upgrade.
- Works with mass-update/-upload tools like Easy Populate.
- Watermark images to prevent competitors from stealing them.
- Fancy image hover functionality lets a larger image pop up whenever you move your mouse above a small image (switchable).
- Choose an image background color matching to match you site’s color or select a transparent background for your images.
- Manage your multiple images for products easily from one page just like you do with attributes in the Products Attribute Manager.
Image Handler is meant to ease the work required to setup images for your store. It works with default Zen Cart functionality, it does not replace it.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Image Handler 4 module for Zen Cart
7. Cross Sell Plus Advanced Sell Combo
Shown on the product info page, this module will allow you to select up to 6 other products to recommend to buyers.
This cross sell module has a graphical interface to quickly find products for cross sell. 6 cross sell products can set specifically set for each of your Zen Cart product pages.
Additionally this combo module has advanced cross sell which allows you to setup all 6 cross sells in the same screen using products numbers.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Cross Sell Plus Advanced Sell Combo module for Zen Cart
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Lightbox module for Zen Cart
9. Google reCAPTCHA Zen Cart Module
Greatly cuts down on the amount of spam you get. This will add a reCAPTCHA validation to the contact us form, create account form, and any other forms you need.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Google reCAPTCHA module for Zen Cart
10. Simple Google Analytics
Allows you to integrate the advanced e-commerce Analysis provided by Google.
Add Google Analytics site tracking easily to your zen cart web site. Learn where your visitors come from and where they go in your site with this powerful free service provided by Google. Google Analytics can help you buy the right keywords, target your best markets, and engage and convert more of your customers.
Google Aanalytics can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, e-mail marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Google Analytics module for Zen Cart
11. Sitemap XML Zen Cart Module
A proper sitemap will encourage Google and other search engine spiders to crawl and index your site.
This Script generates an Sitemap as described here:
- Supports multilangual categories and products
- Supports Search-Engine Safe URLs
- Can be accessed by http or command line
- Autogenerates multiple sitemaps for sites with over 50.000 URLs
- Autogenerates multiple sitemaps if filesize exceeded 10MB
- Writes files compressed or uncompressed
- Using index.php wrapper – http://domain.com/index.php?main_page=sitemapxml
- Using languages file and etc.
- Auto-notifies Google, Yahoo!, Ask.com and Microsoft (both live.com and msn.com)
- You can use the gzip feature or compress your Sitemap files using gzip.
Please note that your uncompressed Sitemap file may not be larger than 10MB.
- Generation of a sitemap index file
- Generation of xml-sitemaps for (separate files):
- Products (support hideCategories)
- Categories (support hideCategories)
- ‘EZ pages rel=nofollow attribute’ support (http://www.zen-cart.com/index.php?ma…roducts_id=944)
- ‘date_added’/’last_modified’ support
- check internal links (‘alt_url’) by “noindex” rule (main_page in ROBOTS_PAGES_TO_SKIP)
- toc_chapter proccessing
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Sitemap XML module for Zen Cart
12. URI Mapping (SEO)
Unlike other SEO modules, where the URIs are generated automatically when a customer visits a page, this module allows specific URIs to be entered within the admin, or even for auto-generation to be used to create a static URI for an individual category/product/manufacturer/EZ-Page/Zen Cart page.
It lets you specify static, keyword-based URIs to be used instead of dynamic, ID-based URIs. For example – for a product – instead of dynamic URIs like this:
A static address, full of keywords, could be specified for the product:
This zen cart module allows you to generate the URIs automatically within the admin, or even to enter your own specific URIs for each product/category/EZ-Page/Zen Cart page.
- Full Multi-Language Support
- Canonical URI Support
- Historical URI Redirection (Never have a broken link again!)
- URI Auto-Generation
- Transliteration Support
- 100% Compatibility with Zen Cart
- Easy-to-use Admin Integration for Categories, Products, Manufacturers and EZ-Pages
- Organize EZ-Pages into Site Sections
- Ability to use Static URIs for any Zen Cart page
- Automatic Usage of any URI mappings Defined for Categories, Products, Manufacturers, EZ-Pages or any other Zen Cart page!
- Ability to use Static URIs as an Alias for any other Static URI
- Automated support for standard Zen Cart pages related to a Product
- 100% Compatibility with Zen Cart and Most Modules
- Transparently Handles URIs With or Without a Slash (/) at the End
- Respects Context of a Link to a Category/Product page
- Avoids Possibility of Duplicate URIs
- Support for all of Zen Cart’s Standard Product Types (and more)!
Please Note: This module does not automatically add mappings for existing Categories/Products/Manufacturers/EZ-Pages – if the site has existing Categories/Products/Manufacturers/EZ-Pages, they’ll continue to use the standard Zen Cart dynamic URIs, until a URI has been entered or auto-generated for them, by editing the respective Category/Product/Manufacturer/EZ-Page in the admin.
This means going in and editing every Category/Product/Manufacturer/EZ-Page for which a static URI mapping is desired.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. URI Mapping (SEO) module for Zen Cart
13. Easy Populate
The Easy Populate zen cart module allows you to add/update products from a tab delimited text file, which can be edited in MS Excel, or better still (because you will overload Excel..) OpenOffice. Extremely useful if you have lots of products in your store or for updating pricing & stock quantities frequently. If your zen cart has over 100 products, you need Easy Populate!
Please note that Easy Populate does not support product attributes such as size, color, etc.
Our quote includes installation and configuration of this module on your zen cart web site. If you require help with setting up your spreadsheet and uploading your products, please let us know at the time of your quote request.
Easy Populate Zen Cart Admin Interface:
Easy Populate has a two-way capability: to IMPORT product data into your zencart store, and to EXPORT product data from your zencart store.
Easy Populate does not have the capacity to add/update other data (eg: customer data, orders, etc). Easy Populate’s capabiility is restricted to product data only.
When IMPORTING into your store, Easy Populate can both ADD NEW PRODUCT DATA, and UPDATE EXISTING PRODUCT DATA.
Easy Populate both imports and exports this data from a TAB-DELIMITED TEXT FILE (not from a “spreadsheet” as is sometimes believed).
The initial composition of data is, however, undertaken using spreadsheets, as these programs are the most effective ways of organizing and managing large data sets in columns and rows. It is possible to create your tab-delimited files in other data editors – even MS Word – but the formatting is then up to the operator (you!) rather than the program itself.
So, when working with Easy Populate, your initial data sets are in the form of spreadsheets, and MS Excel and OpenOffice are both appropriate for this purpose.
These spreadsheets are then “SAVED AS” tab-delimited txt files, which are in turn used by Easy Populate.
It is also important to understand that programs like Easy Populate have certain limitations with regard to how product data is managed and assimilated once it is in the database.
You may need to run a variety of “Tools” after using EP to populate (or update) your product data.
An example of this is the potential need to re-set Master Category ID in instances where EP is used to create linked product associations. But there are other occasions when the Store Manager (under Tools menu) features may be needed to re-organize product data after an EP upload.
Get more info or request a quote for installation here. Easy Populate module for Zen Cart
There are also several modules that I recommend, but I will list these out in a future article.
If you need help installing zen cart modules to your cart please contact us for a quote.